Open data – one year on

Data.gov.uk

Just a short post today.  Open data has been with us for almost a year now, but how successful has it been at delivering what it aimed to? Well the first thing to define i suppose is what exactly Open Data meant to achieve.  Paul Clarke suggest on his blog that Open Data tried to achieve three things:

  • transparency
  • usefulness
  • commercial value.

Did it meet any of the goals?  Well if you want a detailed appraisal you should read Pauls blog. But to summarise things.

Transparency: Data is now out there so in that sense things are more transparent than they were. Some data was already publically available but data.gov brought these disparate sources together making them easier to discover.

Usefulness: Is the data that has been made available useful? I suppose that depends on what you want to do with it and your skills in data manipulation. Paul suggests that there haven’t been many apps or mashups that make a difference to real people’s everyday life. This might be true but i can think of some apps/mashups that are more useful than others such as those that show the number of “boris bikes” at docking stations in London and alot of the work that comes out through the My Society and Spatial Analyis websites are based on open data.

Another “useful” use has been the Planning Alerts website (down at the time of writing) )which you can sign up to and recieve planning alerts that are relevant to your local area. This site relies on data being published by councils in a standard machine readable format. Planning Alerts then does the useful part, collating and serving the data in a human readable format. Crucially, you only recieve the information that you request so this is getting towards Open Standards and things but that is another post…..

Commercial Value: Paul suggests that the success of this objective is less clear.  I have spotted a number of companies that have sprung up that make use of Open Data, even if that is just packaging and distributing the data in a more digestible format.   The main point that Paul makes here that we should take notice of is that the planned creation of the Public Data Corporation.  One of the objectives of the PDC is “the management of the conflict between revenues from the sale of data and the benefits of making it freely available.” I suppose we will have to wait and see what the PDC come up with as this point does seem difficult to resolve.

Overall, Paul’s review is very good and raises a number of points that the geo-enabled community could help address as we enter the second year of Open Data.  Does that sound like a challenge? It should. We, as a community, could do more to help Open Data become useful.

Read the full article from Paul Clarke:  Paul Clarke Blog

About Addy Pope

Addy is a member of the GeoData team at EDINA and work on services such as GoGeo, ShareGeo and the FieldtripGB app. Addy has over 10 years experience as a geospatial analyst. Addy tweets as @go_geo
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